It’s an age old saying that the only thing certain in life is you will someday pass away. While this is very true, there is also the life that is lived in between that time. How one decides to live their life is completely uncertain and that’s a part of the challenge that comes along with growing old. Essentially we’re aiming to accomplish as much as possible before that unknown date of expiration arrives.
In some cases you’ll find that as an adult that daily grind can become quite mundane. The classic picture of success is to graduate college, join the workforce and work your way up the corporate ladder. To say this “picture perfect” life timeline is not one that everybody can fully embrace is an understatement though. Sometimes that day-to-day cycle can wear down on you, particularly when you’re in a position that you don’t have any passion for. You’ll find this a lot in artists and other creatives who are still in the workforce. Conforming to society’s idea of what we should do can be a true burden to carry.
This entrapped state of mind is that with which we find Jackson, Mississippi MC Mr. Fluid on his latest project “When Conformity Is Not Comfortable.” On it he takes us inside the mindset of a person feeling stuck in a routine that is not suitable to their true desires. The 37 year old artist is a veteran in the rap scene and that level of experience helps him to illustrate this picture with ease.
I’m always pushing myself to make a better project than the last, build on what I’ve learned, dig deeper. I’ve never strayed from making personal music but with this one I spoke directly about what it feels like to be the worker bee. The one who feels trapped, lost, because I do feel like that sometimes. The music frees me, it’s my medicine, my therapy. – Mr. Fluid
To help bring his vision to life Mr. Fluid kicks off his LP with “Seize The Time”. Alongside 360 Degrees he wastes no time bringing some of his O.G. knowledge over some scratch-heavy production. The message here is to take your time seriously and make moves with it. It’s a good one too as I always say the only thing that cannot be regained is lost time.
Things slow down a bit with the mellow production of track 2, “Pieces of a Man”. Here we get Mr. Fluid assessing the environment around him and how the power of Hip-Hop can help to fix it all. Without directly saying it he pretty much lets us know why he makes music – in order to help lead and inspire. The beat switches into a snare-filled breakdown towards the end adding a good touch.
From there we get into one of the key things that makes “When Conformity Is Not Comfortable” such a unique project, its skits. On this skit, which is separated into three parts, we get a menacing piece of production with a sped up speech that relates to the content of the music. In a subtle way it kind of places you into the madness that Fluid speaks of so much throughout the project. It’s almost like a public service announcement.
The first portion of the skit leads into the project’s lead single “Change Ya Mind, Change Ya Life”. In my opinion this single is one of the album’s standouts clearly. Though there is plenty of great production work from Mr. Fluid on the project the horns and bass on this one make it infectious. This is without even taking into account the strong bars he brings on it.
Next in line is “Star People” which is a collaboration with Fi3ld. I’ll have to be honest, while it is a well constructed song I’m not sure if its for me. It caught me less than a lot of the other tracks presented on “When Conformity Is Not Comfortable”. Part of that has to do with production. The message and lyricism is poignant as usual with Mr. Fluid but this one just never really connected with me.
In a bit of a change of pace is “I Want You” which features Michelle Brassfield. Here he makes his own version of a love song. It is true to his style heavily leaning on Drum and Bass to drive it which helps it come across as genuine and not forced. Michelle Brassfield’s vocals add a different layer on an album that can be quite abrasive at times.
Following is “Drop The Bass”, which strikes me as one of my favorites on the initial listen of the project. Mr. Fluid is at his most comfortable state when he is focusing on just bringing punchlines less so than dropping knowledge. While he manages to do both on Drop The Bass the free-flowing style he takes makes it one of my favorite lyrical displays on “When Conformity Is Not Comfortable”.
With a title “Blue Collar Bars” it’s reasonable to expect that it may spark more interest than other tracks off the tracklist alone. That wouldn’t be a bad thing as it is another highpoint of the project in my opinion. It’s a record that doesn’t have the highest energy level which I think helps it as a more universal listen. Content wise he speaks on the state of the nation around us from it’s dependency on technology, to politics and more.
As we begin to approach the latter portion of the album Mr. Fluid makes sure his message remains to be heard. “Shop Til U Drop” starts with a monologue aiming at democratic society and how it can be manipulated for the greater good of the more “powerful” people in our nation. The MC then brings lyrics that assess our common longing for material goods and how we have been led to act in this way. His urgency and purpose on the record is palpable on lines like: “the Associated Press associates with whom? Fine line between between a scholar and an educated fool.”
“Brothers In Rhyme” is next up and is probably the most “traditional” of all the songs contained on When Conformity Is Not Comfortable. It is a classic posse cut that could survive in any era of rap. Whether you want to call it old school, boom-bap, or whatever else Snuff & MC Inveigh trade bars with him in a way that has to warm the heart of anyone who grew up in the culture. It’s just a good cypher session.
The LP then comes with “Divination”, which is a one of the more vivid lyrical displays on a project full of them. The chorus alone paints a picture that shows a dual image of good and bad. “I met a witch who read the future in my eyes, taught that God was just a word and he was I.” This matched with bars that often times directly speak to the youth in efforts to raise awareness of what’s around them make it a good listen.
“Lies” is positioned as one of the last tracks of the album and is a storytelling record. I won’t ruin the entire story but it follows a young lady who grows up and is faced with some tough decisions that have equally tough consequences afterwards. Mr. Fluid doesn’t only tell the story from her perspective but his is intertwined as well which adds a great touch to it all. Very well done.
Ending the album is “Trigger On The Gun”, an anxious and ever-changing track. It may just be the most creative production of all that Fluid provides on the album. The breakdowns throughout make it anything but boring to listen to. Though I found it enjoyable, it is the closer on an album that serves a purpose and is pretty conceptual. This song doesn’t necessary fit the theme as much as some others so I personally feel it would be better positioned in another place, but it is strong nonetheless.
All-in-all I found “When Conformity Is Not Comfortable” to be a pretty good listen throughout. Though there were some songs I didn’t attach to, I feel this is more so because Mr. Fluid himself makes music that is more of the niche category. He is great at what he does but what he does simply is not always for everybody. This is a quality I like an artist though as I am a fan of individuality. Mr. Fluid certainly brings a unique individuality if nothing else, plus the message of finding your own passion in a world that encourages conformity is one that is well needed. I would recommend the project for anyone who are fans of Boom-Bap/Drum and Bass acts like Run The Jewels and others.